I am not a massive cat fan. No particular reason, but I would always consider myself more of a dog person. Dogs seem to offer unending devotion, where as a cat might move in two doors down because they buy a better brand of cat food. Their affection seems rather...transcient. That said, there have been a few cats that I have grown rather fond of. When we first moved in, there was a local moggy that we nicknamed Carpet Cat. It was a big, soppy, lazy tom, who would happily lay on your feet while you sat in the garden. Carpet Cat would even tolerate being dragged about the garden by the then toddling children, a resigned and indulgent expression on his face. He was unendingly gentle and patient. One day I realsied that I hadn't seen good old CC for a while, and he has never been seen since. I like to think that he found somewhere to live where the humans served fresh salmon, although a more sinister ending is probably more likely.
So, me and cats have rubbed along ok for the most part. My lovely chicken sitting neighbour has two posh long haired kitties who have the unfortunate belief that my front lawn is a toilet. Too posh to bury their leavings, my lawn is often dotted with little whirls of very stinky poo. My lovely neighbour can be regularly seen scooping the poop (she really is lovely). However, now that I keep chickens, my relationship with the feline species has altered. Where as before they were a distant sometime irritation, they are now a real threat.
In the last few months, we have aquired two determined hunters. The first one, a sleek black fellow, turned up shortly after christmas. He was a particularly skilled hunter, and could slink into the garden unseen. He kept himself hidden, and was only spotted by the ever tolerant husband. Now, the birds never even detected his presence, which was very worrying. I chased him out of the garden a couple of times, and touch wood, he hasn't returned. I suspect that he may have stuck to the shadows because the girls probably look quite a lot bigger close up than they do from the safety of the fence. Basically, I don't think he liked his chances.
The second chicken worrier showed up at the weekend. Thankfully, this young cat has a collar with bell fitted, and the birds heard it coming. An almighty racket alerted me to an intruder, and when I rushed outside I saw the white and ginger kitten bouncing around the lawn chasing the badly frightened birds. Reacting purely on instinct, I chased our unwelcome visitor over the fence with a hiss (the neighbours now really think I'm some kind of loopy animal impersonator). Finding a smattering of feathers on the lawn, I feared the worst. The girls had fled to the coop, and one by one I looked them over. The feathers belonged to Kiki, but she appeared to have no injuries. I can only assume that the speed in which she took off down the garden left some of her plummage behind. I watched the flock anxiously for the next couple of hours, fingers crossed that stress wouldn't overcome any of them. A dollop of apple cider vinegar in their drinker made me feel better.
This morning our feline visitor returned. The girls sent up the alarm call early, and I got to the back door just in time to see it drop behind the greenhouse. Again, I ran up the garden hissing like a mentalist and chased it off. The likelihood of a small cat mauling a hen is pretty small, but the stress and panic caused to the bird from being 'played' with can be lethal.
I will not be befriending this cat.